COCONUTS CRTIC’S TABLE — Taking over the space that was once the popular Petitenget Cafe, new kid on the trendy Seminyak dining block, KILN, has big shoes to fill.
Marketing itself as Eastern Mediterranean, “where food is forged in the fire and made for sharing,” KILN opened up shop this past spring, featuring menu items like skillets, wraps, and dips for brunch, and meat, veggies, and seafood for dinner, cooked in a copper oven where KILN gets its namesake.
While the closure of the Petitenget seems to have broken some hearts—it was something of a Seminyak institution after all—KILN has been generating enough buzz in the Bali dining scene, that we thought it worth it to take a truth-seeking mission last week for dinner to see how the new resto rates.
Centrally located near the temple, KILN’s vibe during a weekday evening was tropical and chilled with its open-air setup, hanging plants, and chic garden-styled furniture. Music is loud and upbeat, but not so loud you can’t have conversation. A giant lightbulb installation over the bar is the restaurant’s main visual point of interest. KILN’s party nights are on Fridays, so we’d expect a pretty different scene from what we experienced if you want to go to kickstart your weekend.
Attentive, friendly service characterized our visit to KILN right off the bat. A quick-acting hostess sat us immediately and an alert wait staff was always ready to help us throughout the night.
To get things going, we ordered some drinks off the extensive list put together by Albie Barratt of Singapore’s Oxwell & Co. Going for simplicity, we tried an oldie with a twist: the Gin n Chronic (Rp 100k; USD7.5), gin, black lime, clove and nutmeg, infused house tonic—a perfect hot weather cocktail, understated yet zesty. And then a Hydrate Mate (Rp 45k; USD3.50) for the non-alcohol-needing half of our group, which was watermelon, mint, lemongrass, honey, and lime—as fresh and sweet as it sounds.
While the drink list is expansive, the dinner menu itself, curated by young Singaporean rising star, Nicholas Scorpion, alongside Australian celebrity chef Morgan McGlone, is sweet and neat with one page, including seven main categories. For dinner, choose from breads, dips, ‘snacky bits’, chargrilled skewers, fired vegetables (not to be misread as ‘fried’ like we did at first glance), salads, meats, and fish.
The menu is built for sharing and share we did.
Kicking things off with some smashed roti prata (Rp 30k; USD2) that came out hot and crispy, we paired the Indian roti with the harissa marbled tzatziki (Rp 40k; USD3), a smooth, cool yoghurt-based dip featuring the North African chili-tomato paste.
A sauce that later became the perfect condiment for the lamb kofte, salsa verde skewers (Rp 55k; USD4) we ordered. Don’t get us wrong, the skewers were exactly as kefta should taste in North Africa, with rich earthy cumin starring in the leading role, but with so much meat on one skewer, some of that tzatziki was definitely in order to help cut the cumin and add some coolness.
The octopus skewers (Rp 80k; USD6), however, needed no condiment. Seasoned with paprika, the octopus was beautifully tender and thankfully not the least bit rubbery. Highly recommended.
From the meat column of the menu, we went for the crispy pork, with spiced pumpkin, braised grapes, and masala (Rp 170k; USD13). The creaminess the pumpkin and touch of edge of with the masala, which ends up a pumpkin paste, over the crispy pork was a beautiful symphony of flavors and contrast. The braised grapes, however, weren’t our favorite. Coming out as something of a compote, a little bit of the sweet grape concoction went a long way, so we only slathered our pork bits in it sparingly and instead spooned up the pumpkin til we were scraping the plate.
From the fired vegetables column, there’s nothing to fault with the roasted cauliflower (Rp 70k; USD5). Served with almond, pomegranate, and parsley, this dish was pure foodgasm. The crunchy, fired stalks of the cauliflower with fresh pops of flavor in each bite from the pomegranate and nuttiness from the almonds was insanely satisfying.
We will say if you want to enjoy your breads and dips first, order those ahead while you continue to peruse the menu to select the rest of your dinner. The turnaround time at KILN was so fast when we visited that it was only seconds after we got the prata and tzatziki that the rest of our food started arriving at the table. We didn’t mind because we were hungry, borderline hangry, but if you want a more leisurely-paced dinner, get those breads, dips or ‘snacky bits’ first or just request the rest of your food come out a little later.
Dessert, however, was an entirely different story from everything else we tried at KILN that night. Excited to see something with cookie dough as an option, we ordered what was written on the menu as “chocolate cookie dough snickers, vanilla ice cream” (Rp 60k; USD4.50). This description sounds like the stuff of dreams, but when it arrived, it was nothing but one disappointment after the next. What came looked like a huge bar mound covered in not just peanuts as a its ‘snickers’ name would suggest, but popcorn kernels. Digging in, we found the base was a thick, chocolate cake that seemed more dry than anything. Where was the cookie dough in all this? Turns out it had a minor non-speaking role, drizzled on the top in a thin sauce, that we could hardly taste. While we’re certainly popcorn lovers, unfortunately the popcorn puffs on the desert seemed quite stale, like the bottom of what you’d find in a microwaved bag, with us even biting into a hard kernel. That’s when it was a sign for us to simply stop and give up on this odd dessert. Overhearing our neighbors at the next table, it seems we should’ve ordered the roasted pineapple burnt cream, that they could only excitedly rave about.
The takeaway? KILN has a fun vibe and does an amazing job of deftly combining spices and textures for rich, satiating dishes and you’re best off when you come with others so you can share and taste as much of the menu as possible. Except the chocolate cookie dough snickers, don’t get the chocolate cookie dough snickers.
Coconuts Critic’s Table reviews are written based on unannounced visits by our writers and paid for by Coconuts Media.